This date in National Hockey League history was dominated by some guy in Edmonton who wore No. 99. Also, there were plenty of memories back in the day of black and white highlight reels. Dec. 17 was also a good day for offensive defensemen and taking a penalty shot. Hop into our daily time machine and buckle up for another trip through the decades.
Gretzky Has Another Big Date
Wayne Gretzky terrorized the NHL during his career, especially with the Edmonton Oilers in the 1980s. On Dec. 17, 1982, he had a goal and three assists in a 10-4 win over the visiting New Jersey Devils. Defenseman Paul Coffey matched his goal and three helpers, but Jari Kurri led the way with his fourth career hat trick and two assists for a five-point night.
One year later, on Dec. 17, 1983, Gretzky scored a goal set up five more during an 8-1 blowout of the Quebec Nordiques on home ice. The six-point performance helped him reach two personal milestones; 500 career assists and 800 career points. He reached both of these plateaus faster than any other player in league history, needing just 352 games.
Finally, on Dec. 17, 1986, the Great One put up four goals, including a natural hat trick, and added an assist in another Oilers’ win over the Nordiques, this time a 5-3 final score. This was the 41st hat trick of Gretzky’s career. He retired with 50 career hat tricks, just one of his many NHL records.
Black & White Memories
The first scoreless tie occurred on Dec. 17, 1924, between the Hamilton Tigers and the original Ottawa Senators. Tigers’ netminder Jake Forbes and Hall of Famer Alec Connell kept the puck out of their net for 80 minutes, as teams played a full 20-minute overtime back in these days.
Aurel Joliat scored his first career hat trick on Dec. 17, 1927, and added an assist as the Montreal Canadiens beat the visiting Boston Bruins 5-1.
The New York Rangers hosted the Canadiens on Dec. 17, 1935, and the two teams skated to a 1-1 draw. Five members of the Rangers who had been with the team since day one reached a milestone on this night. Frank Boucher, Bill Cook, Fred “Bun” Cook, Ivan Johnson, and Murray Murdock all skated in their 500th NHL game.
On Dec. 17, 1955, Bob Perreault became the eighth goaltender to record a shutout in his first NHL game, leading Montreal to a 5-0 victory versus the Chicago Blackhawks. He played six career games with the Canadiens, all in the 1955-56 season.
The largest trade in NHL history, at the time, went down on Dec. 17, 1957, between the Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings. Chicago sent Nick Mickoski, Jack McIntyre, Bob Bailey, and Hec Lalande to their rival for Dutch Reibel, Billy Dea, Bill Dineen, and Lorne Ferguson. These were the most players involved in one transaction up to this point.
Ted Lindsay scored two goals and added an assist on Dec. 17, 1958, to lead the Blackhawks to a 5-2 win over the Bruins. The big performance gave him 271 career goals, making him the highest-scoring left wing in NHL history, passing Joliat. He has since fallen to 27th on the all-time goals list at the position. Alex Ovechkin sits atop of it with 751 goals and counting.
Offense from the Blue Line
Barry Beck scored his first career hat trick on Dec. 17, 1977, to lead the Colorado Rockies to a 5-1 win versus the Minnesota North Stars. He also added an assist as he set an NHL rookie record for defensemen by scoring in his sixth game in a row. He finished the 1977-78 season with 22 goals, the most ever scored in a season by a first-year blueliner at the time.
Doug Wilson scored a goal and had two assists in the first period to collect his 700th career NHL point on Dec. 17, 1989, as the Blackhawks won 6-5 over the Oilers. The long-time San Jose Sharks general manager scored 237 goals and 827 points during his 14-season career, the first 12 of those coming with the Blackhawks. The 1982 Norris Trophy winner was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2021.
On Dec. 17, 1999, Ray Bourque became just the third player in NHL history to record 1,100 assists in the Bruins’ 3-1 road win at the Atlanta Thrashers. Goaltender Byron Dafoe earned the 100th victory of his career.
Success on the Penalty Shot
Rocky Trottier, the younger brother of Hall of Famer Bryan Trottier, scored the first penalty-shot goal in Devils franchise history. The historic conversion helped New Jersey beat the Oilers 5-2. Rocky was selected eighth overall by the Devils in the 1982 NHL Entry Draft, their first-ever pick after relocating from Colorado. He did not have nearly the amount of success as Bryan did. He only appeared in 38 career NHL games, scoring six goals and 10 points.
Defenseman Michal Rozsival converted on his penalty shot on Dec. 17, 2008, beating Los Angeles Kings’ goaltender Jason LaBarbera. He went on to score again, in overtime, to give the Rangers a 3-2 victory. He became just the second player since overtime returned in 1983 to score both a penalty-shot and overtime goal in the same game. Steve Thomas was the first player to do this with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003.
Odds & Ends
Dennis Hull scored his 300th career goal on Dec. 17, 1977, and added an assist in the Red Wings 3-2 road win at the St. Louis Blues. The “Silver Jet,” the brother of Bobby and uncle to Brett Hull, scored his first 298 goals with the Blackhawks. He played just one season in Detroit, scoring five goals and 14 points during the final 55 games of his 14-season career.
Glenn Resch made 42 saves for his 26th and final career shutout on Dec. 17, 1983, to earn the first road shutout in Devils franchise history. Don Lever led the offense by scoring both goals in a 2-0 victory at the North Stars.
The Pittsburgh Penguins had a historic night on Dec. 17, 1991, with a 10-2 blowout of the Sharks. They set a new team record by scoring eight goals in the second period. Joe Mullen hit a personal milestone as his goal, and two assists gave him 800 points in his career.
The Sharks had a much better night on Dec. 17, 2001, with their 4-1 road win at the Dallas Stars. Teemu Selanne scored a pair of goals to extend their team-record nine-game unbeaten streak (8-0-1). Owen Nolan became just the second player in Sharks’ history to record 200 assists.
The Phoenix Coyotes traded Kyle Turris on Dec. 17, 2011, to the Senators for defenseman David Rundblad and a second-round draft pick. Turris was selected third overall by the Coyotes at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. He played 407 games in Ottawa, scoring 117 goals and 274 before being traded to the Nashville Predators in 2017.
Rundblad only played in 26 games for the Coyotes. He was traded to the Blackhawks in 2014 for a second-round draft pick that was used to select Christian Dvorak. The pick from the original deal for Turris was traded two more times. Eventually, the Flyers used it to select goaltender Anthony Stolarz.
Happy Birthday to You
A total of 15 players who have skated at least one game in the NHL have been born on this date. The most notable of the Dec. 17 birthday boys are Dave Poulin (63), Frantisek Musil (57), Craig Berube (56), Vincent Damphousse (54), Samuel Pahlsson (44), Gregory Campbell (38), and the late Gilles Tremblay.
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Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.